Thad Jones

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Thad Jones

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Thaddeus Joseph "Thad" Jones (March 28, 1923 – August 21, 1986) was an American jazz trumpeter, composer, and bandleader.
 

Biography

Thad Jones was born in Pontiac, Michigan, to a musical family of ten (an older brother was pianist Hank Jones and a younger brother was drummer Elvin Jones). Thad Jones was a self-taught musician, performing professionally by the age of sixteen. He served in U.S. Army bands during World War II (1943–46).

After Army service including an association with the U.S. Military School of Music and working with area bands in Des Moines and Oklahoma City, Thad became a member of the Count Basie Orchestra in May 1954. He was featured as a soloist on such well-known tunes as "April in Paris", "Shiny Stockings" and "Corner Pocket". However, his main contribution was his nearly two dozen arrangements and compositions for the Basie Orchestra, including "The Deacon", "H.R.H." (Her Royal Highness, in honor of the band’s command performance in London), "Counter Block", and lesser known gems such as "Speaking of Sounds". His hymn-like ballad "To You" was performed by the Basie band combined with the Duke Ellington Orchestra in their only recording together, and the recording Dance Along With Basie contains nearly an entire album of Jones’ uncredited arrangements of standard tunes.

Jones left the Basie Orchestra in 1963 to become a freelance arranger and studio player in New York. In 1965 he and drummer Mel Lewis formed the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra. The group started with informal late-night jam sessions among New York's top studio musicians. They began performing at the Village Vanguard in February, 1966, to wide acclaim, and continued with Jones in the lead for twelve years. They won a 1978 Grammy Award for their album Live in Munich.[1] Jones also taught at William Paterson College in New Jersey, which is now the site of the Thad Jones Archive, containing pencil scores and vintage photos as part of the Living Jazz Archives.

Jones' big-band arranging style was unique, especially from the standpoint of featuring dissonant voicings in a tonal context. This required the members of his big band to play correctly in tune, otherwise the dense chords he wrote would not sound correct. Minor 2nds and major 7ths are often featured in his voicings, especially when the entire band plays a long, powerful chord that some would describe as having "bite".[citation needed]

One of the more notable albums he made in this regard is Suite for Pops recorded on the A&M Records Horizon label (now out of print) in the early 1970s.[citation needed] It also featured the intense bebop improvisations of saxophonist Billy Harper and the high note screech playing of lead trumpet player Jon Faddis.